The Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) will be extended to all Singaporeans with chronic conditions regardless of income and more polyclinics will be built as part of the government’s plans to keep healthcare affordable in Singapore, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday (19 August).
Delivering his 15th National Day Rally speech at the Institute of Technical Education Central in Ang Mo Kio, PM Lee said that CHAS benefits will continue to be tiered according to income levels and more details will be announced by the Ministry of Health (MOH).
Introduced in 2012, the healthcare scheme entitles eligible middle and lower income Singaporeans to receive subsidies for medical and dental care at participating General Practitioners (GPs) and dental clinics.
CHAS covers subsidies for households with monthly income of $1,800 and below per person. For households with no income, the Annual Value (AV) of their homes must be $21,000 and below.
All older citizens under the Pioneer Generation scheme also receive CHAS subsidies for the same range of services.
Quoting Member of Parliament for Jalan Besar GRC Dr Lily Neo, PM Lee said Dr Neo observed that the introduction of CHAS had resulted in more elderly patients coming to her earlier, thus allowing her to treat them before their conditions worsen.
He stressed that the scheme “has worked well” and noted that more Singaporeans will have chronic conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, as they grow older but they “can continue to live a full life if (they) manage (them) – by taking good care of ourselves, eating healthily, taking our medications regularly and following up with our family doctor”.
“I think all of us will appreciate a little bit of help with the regular medical bills for such chronic conditions,” he added.
The MOH has also been building and upgrading polyclinics and medical centres across the island, including newer ones in Punggol and Kampung Admiralty, he said.
PM Lee also announced that there will be polyclinics built in Sembawang, Eunos, Kallang and Bukit Panjang by 2020 and in Nee Soon Central and Tampines North by 2023.
“We want all Singaporeans to have access to affordable, high-quality healthcare. No one should be denied medical care because they cannot afford it,” said PM Lee. “That is my commitment to you.”